WASHINGTON - The Federal Housing Finance Board may have a quorum for the first time in nearly 18 months when it meets in June, thanks to Thursday's Senate Banking Committee approval of two pending nominations.

The committee voted unanimously to confirm former Rep. Bruce A. Morrison, D-Conn., as chairman of the agency and lobbyist J. Timothy O'Neill to sit on its board. The full Senate was expected to approve the nominations as early as today.

"We've made a lot of progress in the last 17 months, but we can make even more progress with a full board," said Nicolas P. Retsinas, the Housing and Urban Development official who now heads the board.

Absent a quorum, the finance board has been unable to write new rules for the Federal Home Loan Bank System, added Mr. Retsinas, who is assistant secretary for housing.

Mr. Morrison, tapped by President Clinton last fall to chair the finance board, fell victim during the last Congress to a hold placed by Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex.

In response, Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, R-Conn., slapped a hold on Mr. O'Neill, the President's nominee to fill one of the finance board's Republican seats. Earlier this Congress, the President renominated the two candidates.

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